Friday, July 20, 2012

Walking Along the Edge of a Knife

A few weeks ago, hundreds of people just down the road from me lost their homes and all their belongings in a firestorm. Just a month before that, a coworker's baby son was born with no legs. Yesterday, a friend found out his leukemia came back. And today, twelve people were killed at a movie theater in my hometown, at the mall where I used to shop at Claire's and perform in choir concerts.

These tragedies are so close. A reminder that we are just a breath away from catastrophe. It is as if we are walking along the edge of a knife, balancing, hoping that we will stay on top, but knowing that only a wisp of air separates us from what could be.  

The immense beauty and the immense tragedy of this world drives the painful truth of Christianity into my heart. For Christianity is a beautiful story, but a tragic one as well. And it reminds me that it is the only explanation that explains, as Chesterton said, the only puzzle that makes sense of the disparate pieces of this world.

Looking at the beauty of this world, I cannot hope for nirvana, a separation from the pain and suffering, as it would mean forsaking and denying the beauty.

Looking at the ugliness of this world, the horrible claims of karma are anemic and disgusting. No 3-month-old deserves to be shot.

A mystical view of the world - that all happens for a reason - simply defies reason in a time of hate. A materialistic view of the world - that all is the meaningless unfolding of nature - defies every notion of the human mind and every pulse of the human heart.

The only explanation that explains is that once upon a time there was a beautiful world. God made it beautiful - the kind of beauty that makes you ache. But then bad entered the world. It took what was beautiful and made a mockery of it, twisting and disfiguring it. So this world lived at all times along a knife's edge - between the tension of the two truths, that this world is full of both great good and great evil. But the God who created the world would not give up on it. He hated the ugly and had to punish it. He couldn't look away, but knew justice must be done. But there wasn't one perfect being in His world - they all had the stain of evil mixed into their good. But He loved His world too much to simply destroy it all with justice. So instead He took the punishment for all the hate, the ugly, the cruelty, the selfishness onto Himself. He suffered and died for it on the cross. But because He's God, he couldn't be kept down. He rose again and now opens His hands to all, saying,

Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
    and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reaffirming words in this painful, senseless day.